Betsy Braddock--Porn Star

There's a lot of things in the comic book thread that I want to tease out a bit more. This conversation on how super-heroines are drawn was really interesting, and came out of our discussion of Kitty Pryde's return. To summarize there's some fear that she'll be drawn with the frame of Vanessa Del Rio.

There's a long tradition of this sort of thing in comics, and to be frank, it's something I was basically blind to as a kid. The only obvious example was when Marvel took the relatively demure Betsy Braddock/Psylocke and turned her into a ninja assassin who favored stripper gear. That happened just as I stopped my first round of collecting, so I missed most of this.

Anyway, here's an interesting perspective, from commenter Cliff Moore, on why some comic book artists feel the need to give all their heroines breast implants:

Its cliched, but I'll trot it out anyway: It sells.

I owned a comic and game shop, and I know the clientele. But over and above the clientele are the ones that run the industry, and the whole thing is still made up of a gaggle of overgrown man-children, it just tends to get less press because of lingering negative aura that surrounds Geek culture.

Try looking at the covers of a Conan the Barbarian serial, or something truly outrageous like Tarot. Even the very few runs that feature female leads, fierce and powerful as they may be, still tend to have very provocative covers. Because even though those lines may slightly be angled towards a female demographic, a majority of those purchasing the likes of Vixen, Storm, and Wonder Woman are men ages 14-52. And there are a lot of girls and women that want action and adventure just as much as any guy, but don't want it watered down in the likes of Spiderman Loves Mary Jane.

And as someone states below, Japanese Manga is making all kinds of inroads in the female demographic by featuring strong female lead characters without the obligatory lingerie spread. But its kind of quirky because the Japanese are still highly patriarchal, so when there are instances of sexism, its really, really, really overt.

Here's Persia's response:

It feels like they're continuing to slice the market smaller and smaller-- only X people in X demographic are buying comics, so they increasingly cater to those tastes more and more exclusively.

The anime/manga crowd, on the other hand, seems more intent on broadening their appeal-- some comics don't rely on 'fan service' at all, some will show big-breasted women and men who seem to lose their shirts at the first opportunity. (Manga is also a much bigger market than the comics market in America-- there's a tremendous diversity, much of which doesn't make it to the states. And the sexism is not always overt. Often, like any media, it's a mix of overt and 'wait, when I think about this...')

There's more in the thread. It's worth checking it out. All of this reminds me of the debates around gangsta rap.

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Ta-Nehisi Coates is a national correspondent at The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues. He is the author of the memoir The Beautiful Struggle.

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